How to leave a gift in your Will - New

How to write your Will

Step 1. Value your estate

Get an idea of what your estate will be worth by drawing up a list of your assets and debts.

Assets that typically make up an estate include:

your home, and any other property you own

savings in bank and building society accounts

National Savings, such as premium bonds

insurance, such as life assurance or an endowment policy

pension funds that include a lump sum payment on death

investments such as stocks and shares or investment trusts

motor vehicles

jewellery, antiques and other personal belongings

furniture and other household contents

Debts may include:

a mortgage

a credit card balance

a bank overdraft

loans

equity release

Step 2. Decide how you want to divide your estate

You should make sure that it’s absolutely clear what you want to happen to your whole estate. Think about:

  • who you want to benefit from your will
  • whether you wish to give any specific gifts to particular people
  • where the residue of the estate is to go (any property or money left over after paying funeral and administrative expenses, legacies and taxes)
  • what you want to happen if any of your beneficiaries should die before you

Step 3. Decide if you want to leave a gift in your Will to a charity

If you plan to leave a gift to a charity in your will, make sure you include the charity’s full name, address and registered charity number. Incorrect information may mean your chosen charity doesn't receive the gift.

Find out how you can leave a gift in your Will to Cancer Research UK. 

Step 4. Choose your executors

Executors are the people who deal with distributing your estate after you've died. Being an executor can involve a lot of work and responsibility, so consider the people you appoint carefully.

Find out more about the role of an executor.

Step 5. Write your will

You can do this in a number of ways.

Lawyers: It’s usually best to get advice from a lawyer (for example, a solicitor or chartered legal executive). You may wish to speak to a lawyer who specialises in wills and probate (applying for the legal right to deal with someone’s property, money and possessions). Check they are licensed with the relevant professional body, such as the Solicitors Regulation Authority or Law Society.

Professional will writers: Professional will writers aren’t qualified solicitors and may not be regulated. If you decide to use one, first check whether they are a member of the Institute of Professional Willwriters.

Charities: Some charities and specific campaigns offer free will-drafting services to encourage will making and charitable legacies (although there's no obligation). Cancer Research UK offer their own free Will writing scheme that is open to everyone. 

Banks: Some banks offer will-writing services and advice about estate planning. Contact your local branch to book an appointment with an adviser to find out what they can offer. Some banks charge high fees for this service.

Make your own will: You can make your own will but you must make sure that it’s valid. A will is a legal document so it needs to be written and signed correctly. If you decide to make your own will, it’s best to seek advice first.

Step 6. Sign your will

You must sign your will in the presence of independent witnesses for it to be valid. Find out more below.

Step 7. Store your will safely

Leave your will with a solicitor, bank, safely stored at home or with the Probate Service. Find your local Probate Service through GOV.UK.

You must let your executors know where your will is kept. Don’t attach any documents to the will with paperclips or staples – if they detach and leave marks it will raise questions about whether the will is missing any parts or amendments.

Get your assets valued regularly because the value of them can change over time. 

How to update an existing Will

1. Write a new Will

The simplest way is to write a new Will. Once written, any Wills made by that person in the past become void. In fact, most Wills will start by reciting that you’re writing a Will and that you’re revoking previous Wills.

You can write a new Will with a professional advisor. You can find your local solicitor that we partner with for our Free Will Service scheme, or take a look at our other Will writing providers.

2. Codicils

The other way is to write a codicil, which is a document used to make changes to an existing Will.

It’s used as a way to make simple amendments like adding a charity, changing a gift amount or adding an executor. This is all quite straightforward but problems can occur if you ever want to cancel the Will in the future.

When you cancel a Will that contains a codicil, the codicil does not get cancelled automatically, so when you write a new Will it can create inconsistencies and legal problems. To avoid this, make sure that any new Will clearly states that you are revoking all Wills and codicils previously made.

To write your codicil, contact your local solicitor or speak with our Will writing providers

How to leave a gift in your Will to Cancer Research UK

If you’d like to include Cancer Research UK in your Will, please ask your solicitor or Will writer to use our full name and details to ensure the gift reaches us. These are:

Cancer Research UK is a registered charity in England and Wales (1089464), Scotland (SC041666), and the Isle of Man (1103) and Jersey (247). Registered address: 2 Redman Place, London, E20 1JQ.

How we can help you 

To give you peace of mind that your loved ones and final wishes are taken care of, you are more than welcome to use our first-class Will writing services.

Our services are open to all ages, and we only partner with the best-in-class Will writing providers in the UK. 

If you're still unsure about anything or would like someone to point you in the right direction, get in touch with your local Community Legacy Manager and they'll be happy to help. 

Frequently asked questions

How to leave a gift in your Will to charity?

Leaving a gift in your Will to charity is easier than you might think – just follow the following steps:

  1. Make a note of the charity name, address and registered charity number. Use our charity finder tool to find these details
  2. Find a solicitor or professional Will writer to write your Will. Use our solicitor finder to find qualified advisors in your local area
  3. Read our guide on making a Will for advice on what you need to consider when writing your Will2
  4. Provide your solicitor or Will writer with details of your chosen charity

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